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Paul Allen ( 1953 - )  Category ( Businessmen_Women ) [suggest a correction]

Paul AllenAlthough Paul Allen lost almost a third of his net worth durng the recession of 2008-09, it's difficult to feel sorry for him. That setback meant he only had $10.5 billion at his disposal, not $16 billion.

Co-founder with Bill Gates of Microsoft, Allen is a college dropout (Washington State) who became wealthy enough to buy colleges.

Born Jan. 21, 1953 in Seattle, the 14-year-old Allen met Gates when they were both students at Seattle's private Lakeside School and discovered that they had a common love of computers. The two reconnected some years later, when Allen left Washington State to take a programming job in Boston and Gates was attending Harvard. This time, Allen talked Gates into dropping out.

The two founded Micro-Soft (the original name) in Albuquerque in 1975, then moved it to Bellevue, WA. Their big break came in 1980, when they developed software for IBM.

"In 1983, Allen, known as the 'idea man' counterpart to Gates' 'man of action,' resigned from Microsoft after being diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, and undergoing several months of radiation treatment. As Microsoft grew and its stock steadily rose, Allen's share in the company he co-founded made him a billionaire at just over 30 years of age. Meanwhile, Allen began to concentrate on other projects, hoping to find the next big idea lurking somewhere just out of sight. In 1986, he set up a company called Vulcan Ventures in order to research possible investments; to that end, he founded a Silicon Valley think tank in 1992 called Interval Research. Through Interval Research and Vulcan Ventures, Allen began to put his long-term dream of a wired world society in which virtually everyone is online -- into practice. ("

Yet Allen has never been one to hunker down in a cubicle, tuning out the world beyond his computer screen. Philanthropy became a major concern of his from the time he began to accumulate wealth, and he has thus far given away over $900 million.

This money has gone to such diverse recipients as Washington State (and, even-handedly, the University of Washington), the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, the Allen Institute for Brain Science, the Fay C. Allen Center for visual Arts (named after his mother) and Bert Rutan's suborbital commercial spacecraft (the first privately funded aircraft to make it into orbit). His interests include vintage military aircraft, music (he bankrolled the Experience Music Project, a tribute to Seattle-born '70s rocker Jimi Hendrix, and plays in a band himself) and sports.

Especially sports. Allen is the only man to own three professional franchises -- the Seattle Sehawks of the National Football League, the Portland Trail Blazers of the National Basketball Association and the Seattle Sounders of Major League Soccer.

Obviously, Allen is someone who enjoys being rich. He is popular with the players on his teams because he pays them well but does not normally meddle in tream affairs. He is popular with a large number of people he periodically invites to large parties on his 416-foot yacht Octopus, which is equipped with a music studio, a basketball court, and two swimming pools, plus helicopters and submarines.

On the more serious side, Allen has contributed greatly to the advancement of technology by infusing promising projects with venture capital.

He also invested a good deal into the production of interactive media and entertainment.

Of course, not even his enormous wealth could keep Allen from developing cancer. His Hodgkin's Disease was successfully treated with radiation therapy, but he was diagnosed with non-Hodkin's Lymphoma in 2009.

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